Olen and Protokulture part company after six months

Jim Olen

After just six months VP and managing director of Protokulture, Jim Olen left the design, post, and production firm Dec. 16.

Olen explains his departure this way: “When you work at a small company, it’s important that all the staff members (especially the management team) are on the same page.  We simply weren’t on the same page.”

Olen says he and Protokulture owner John Michaels “had different approaches and personalities, and since it’s his company, it’s his approach and personality that matter.  I think we both recognized this, so we mutually decided to part ways.  I wish John and everyone at Protokulture nothing but the best.

“They have a great deal of talent there, and I know they’ll do well for many years to come,” says Olen, who emphasized that he was approached for this story and did not solicit the publicity.

From 1996 until 2011, Olen owned and operated music house The Rhythm Café.  After he closed that company last January, he approached Michaels as a consulting client, and the two agreed Olen would join Protokulture on a full-time basis. 

In a July announcement, Olen and Protokulture founder and creative director John Michaels declared their intention to hone in on the firm’s core design business. Michaels didn’t respond to an interview request for this article.

Protokulture's Jim MichaelsDuring Olen’s brief tenure with Protokulture, the nine-year-old company’s highest-profile project was a collaboration with Adam Marton’s AM Films on graphics packages for the Big Ten Network’s BTN Live and Tailgate 48.

Olen says he’s looking for another “shop that I can call home, and contribute to their success” with a position similar to the one he held at Protokulture.  He continues to operate Creative Arts Consulting, offering management advice, marketing strategies, CFO services, and business development concepts. 

“I’ve consulted nationally recognizable recording artists on branding themselves, post-houses on marketing strategies and team building, and smaller shops on implementing business goals while following their passion,” he says.

Looking forward, Olen says “the future of the industry looks like the Wild West.  Post-houses are doing production, production companies are getting into post.  Sound design and music have become one, and advertising agencies are doing it all in-house.

“If you put yourself out there and offer services that you haven’t offered before, you better be good at it,” Olen continues.  “You better be ready to perform at the level that everyone has come to expect.  You better improve on the client relationship, and not just execute the boards.  Because if you don’t, there is someone else out there that is ready and willing to earn your client’s trust.